You assume the role of an American volunteer flying with the British Airforce. After a “accidental” skirmish with Nazis while on a training mission, you eventually fall into a squadron made up of other volunteer pilots, forming the Blazing Angels. From here Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
falls into a trap that most good WWII-based games manage to avoid. Rather than focus on one or two major campaigns, Blazing Angels
tries to squeeze in every major battle in the war. The game opens with the evacuation of Dunkirk and bombing of London, then jumps over to North Africa, then Pearl Harbor, then on to locations like Paris and Midway. This would have worked if the game followed different squadrons, but when it is one section, it doesn’t work. On the plus side, the game does a great job of presenting the actual history behind missions, so the timing is little more than a nit-picky nuisance.
Blazing Angels takes the Hollywood approach to WWII fighter combat; historical accuracy with a slant towards fast-paced action. You never run out of ammo including torpedoes, rockets and bombs and can fly really close to the ground, even while inverted. At the same time, a few sim elements like engine stall are also brought into the mix that don’t feel “right”.
On the plus side, there’s a lot of variety in missions, so there’s always something different to do. At the same time, things tend to become repetitive since every mission essentially breaks down to the same basic mechanics. Whether you are zooming in for an aerial photo, bombing or torpedoing something, it all uses the same mechanic. On top of that, most of your time is spent shooting down wave after wave of enemy fighters.
After completing the main campaign, you can access two shorter campaigns that add length, though they don’t break away from the gameplay found in the main game.
In addition to offline multiplayer, you can also participate in 16-player matches online. Seek and Destroy has you hunting down specially-marked targets, while Dogfight is a standard Deathmatch. Aces High, which is the more interesting of the included multiplayer modes, tags one pilot as the Ace and has the rest of the players trying to shoot him down. Once he is shot down, a new Ace is chosen. Team-based games are also available and include bombing runs and Capture the Base modes.
Overall, the online modes are solid, though it is very hard to find people to play with. I can’t recall ever playing a full 16-player game with most rooms having 4–5 players total, if that. Communication while online is a rough spot as well, though this is more the fault of Sony’s lack of a decent online program.